Day three preview: Borg sets the agenda
So it comes to this: Team Europe has the points on the board, but Team World has the opposition’s starting list. Who will Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe turn to with the Laver Cup on the line?
Having enjoyed the luxury of seeing McEnroe’s day two selections before announcing his own side on Saturday morning, Borg has already passed on Sunday’s Team Europe lineup to the American. McEnroe has until Sunday morning to decide who plays for Team World, with the official announcement to be made at 10am local time.
Borg’s men may seem to have a formidable lead, but with three points on offer for each win on Sunday, a good start for Team World in the doubles – which opens the action on Sunday – could turn the tide.
With that in mind, it seems logical that Borg would target wins in the first two matches to secure the Laver Cup. Nadal has shown few signs of fatigue after two doubles matches and a singles win, and the prospect of the world No.1 playing singles one more time seems likely.
That frees Federer to contest the doubles with a fresh partner and of the remaining Team Europe players, Alexander Zverev could be the pick. The German has a doubles title in 2017, won with serve-volley-savvy brother Mischa, and his two-handed backhand return should serve him well in the ad-court as Federer lines up on the right.
Marin Cilic and Dominic Thiem should then be on hand to play in the day’s third and fourth matches, if necessary. Of the two, Thiem impressed most against John Isner, going unbroken against the American and coming through a match tiebreak in impressive fashion, so should get the nod for the earlier match should Team Europe be one win away from victory.
McEnroe needs players he and the Team World bench can inspire to turn the tables on Team Europe. John Isner seems the obvious candidate to serve as their fourth doubles player, and having played so often with Querrey in the past the towering duo look set to get the nod.
Of the remaining players, two have wins against Nadal: Nick Kyrgios, who has twice beaten the world No.1, and Denis Shapovalov, a stunning victor over the Spaniard at the Coupe Rogers in August. Kyrgios seems the likely pick, but with his knees creaking after yesterday’s showdown with Tomas Berdych, could McEnroe place his faith in the Canadian teen?
Jack Sock, who has been outstanding for Team World and responded admirably for McEnroe against Nadal on Saturday, won his most recent meeting with Thiem in Paris last November. That leaves teenagers Frances Tiafoe or Shapovalov to face Cilic, and while the American came close to stunning the Croatian on Friday, Shapovalov’s momentum and big-match experience both at the US Open and Davis Cup this summer should see him selected.
*The author’s views are strictly his own. Matchups for Sunday will be revealed at 10am local time and play starts at 12pm.
The first team to win thirteen points is the Laver Cup champion for 2017. Europe currently leads 9-3.